The story of two lovers divided by social classes in Jane Austen’s classic novel “Pride and Prejudice” — but with zombies. This is the premise behind the new Burr Steers film “Pride and Prejudice and Zombies,” an adaptation of Seth Grahame-Smith’s book that was itself an adaptation of the original Austen novel. An advance screening of the film was held at Cantor Film Center on Jan. 28.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” is set in 19th century England. The land has been ravaged by a horde of the undead and the only things keeping everyone from having their brains sucked out like spaghetti are barriers guarded by militia officers. The Bennet family, who take center stage, take extra precaution when they train their five daughters in martial arts and weaponry. Of the daughters, only the two eldest, Jane (Bella Heathcote) and Elizabeth (Lily James), are truly focused. After a wealthy gentleman, Charles Bingley (Douglas Booth), arrives in town, Mr. Bennet (Charles Dance) pays a visit and is subsequently invited to a ball that Bingley is hosting.
As per the original novel, Jane and the young Mr. Bingley are immediately smitten, whereas Bingley’s best friend, Mr. Darcy (Sam Riley), and Elizabeth, don’t exactly get off on the right foot. However, after stumbling into one another over the next few weeks, Darcy begins to find himself more and more infatuated with Elizabeth. This, however, is where the similarities in plots end. Rather than follow Austen’s romantic story, the film diverts drastically. For example, Wickham (Jack Huston), who’s a conniving monster in the novel, is instead turned into a literal one — not to mention the zombies that begin to break through the barriers and run amok.
For those who thought this would be a film strewn with zombie guts flying all over the screen, prepare for disappointment. Adhering strictly within the PG-13 rating, the film is not quite the gore-filled horror that one would typically expect from a traditional zombie flick, and the zombie-slaying is quite watered down.
There are moments in the film that are bound to infuriate thanks to a blatant attempt to appeal to the male audience, objectifying and subsequently oppressing women on screen. A slow-motion scene of the zombie-slaying Bennet sisters, who are defending the defenseless partygoers after a zombie horde ambushes the Bingley ball, unnecessarily features tightly tied corsets and overexposed breasts.
There are some good points to the film nevertheless, one of them being the comedic banter between Elizabeth and Darcy, as the two go back and forth at one another shouting prejudices. Another point of redemption can be offered to those who find Austen’s novel to be dull, as this certainly breathes new zombified life into the original story.
For those of you who aren’t die-hard Jane Austen fans, the movie will be a surprisingly not-as-boring revamp of the classic novel. However, for those of you who hold “Pride and Prejudice” near and dear to your heart, you are likely to be sorely disappointed.
“Pride and Prejudice and Zombies” will open in theaters nationwide starting on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
Email Dejarelle Gaines at [email protected]